Marseille’s Eric Bailly has claimed he did not get a fair chance at Manchester United because the club favour English players.
Bailly joined Marseille on loan this summer after falling out of favour at Old Trafford following his move from Villarreal in 2016.
The Ivory Coast centre-back has made 113 appearances for United but suggested he could have more were it not for players ahead of him in the pecking order.
“The club should avoid favouring English players and give everyone a chance,” Bailly said in comments carried by The Times before Marseille’s opening Champions League game against Tottenham Hotspur.
“[The club should] encourage competition in the dressing room, not just look out for some. I’ve always had the feeling that the national player was prioritised.
“That doesn’t happen at Chelsea or other big Premier League clubs. Some people take it for granted that they are going to start, and that weakens the team. Luckily [Erik] Ten Hag has a lot of character and I hope he can change that dynamic.”
Bailly said he had chosen to leave for Marseille in search of playing time after the arrival of Ten Hag as manager, with the centre-back having made just four appearances in the Premier League last season.
United signed Argentina international Lisandro Martinez from Ajax this summer while Ten Hag also has Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones at his disposal in central defence.
“I met Erik Ten Hag in the dressing room at the end of last season when he went to sign his contract,” Bailly added.
“I was packing my things because my intention was to leave, but he told me he wanted me to stay because he was going to give minutes to everyone.
“I agreed to do the summer tour with United, and he kept his word, but I don’t want to play every now and then. I want to do it every week and feel important. I want to get my confidence back.”
But Bailly defended his time at United, pointing to how he had helped them win the Europa League and League Cup in 2017.
“I was [Jose] Mourinho’s first signing and I also had good moments where titles were won,” Bailly said.
“I played important games and in some I was chosen as the best player.
“I think when I was given the opportunity I rose to the occasion. I just lacked consistency, because I think I deserved more minutes.”